I mentioned in another blog post earlier about getting decent quality lighting in very remote places like in the middle of nowhere, Africa. Actually the area is called Lake Eyasi, and it’s about a four hour drive from Arusha, Tanzania. The following unretouched image was shot with two Canon speedlights with wireless transmitters, set on a lightstand and tripod.

Travel Lighting Techniques

I left it unretouched so you could get a slightly better idea of how we got this shot. There were a total of four light sources: the aforementioned two speedlights, a reflector to the left side of the subject, and natural ambient light coming from the sun. It was shot in the shade because the light was nice and diffused.

One speedlight was placed on a tripod behind the subject to light the background. Pretty obvious stuff, but I didn’t count on such a strong lens flare. I actually like it a lot, but it is definitely there and may not be to some photographers liking. The background is simply a 32″ white reflector that folds up. I bring two of them. On my next trip, I’m bringing a lot more fabric because 32″ diameter backgrounds are only good for closeup portraits.

The second speedlight was used as the key light and was placed above and in front of the subject. I used a Gary Fong Lightsphere diffuser for additional softness. This is a lightweight collapsible diffuser that is attached to the strobe. There are a bunch of different diffuser options out there, but I prefer this one because it takes up very little room in my bag (a lens fits inside of it).

The reflector was placed to the left of the subject and was used to balance out the key light and soften the shadows. I just asked if someone would hold it and they were happy to do so for a couple of bucks.

The results may not be perfect, but given how far I was from my studio in Vancouver, and given how lightweight the entire setup was, and given how quickly we setup and tore down, I’d say the images are more than worthy.

Below is another shot, with similar lighting, except with a stronger background and key light that overpowered the ambient light. I did this to create strong shadows and really emphasize the scarring on the woman’s face. It’s one of my favorite portraits.

African Tribal Woman